Linus Gerdemann hits out at Armstrong's return

No good for credibility of the sport

Top German cyclist Linus Gerdemann, known for his staunch anti-doping stance, has criticised the return of Lance Armstrong because of the doping suspicions once surrounding the seven-times Tour de France winner.

Armstrong recently announced his comeback to cycling after a three-year hiatus and is expected to bid for an eighth yellow jersey next July in the world's premier cycling event.

But news of the 37-year-old American's return has not been universally welcomed, due mainly to a series of allegations, all unproven, that he used doping products during his seven-year reign.

Gerdemann won the first mountain stage of the 2007 Tour on his debut but missed this year's race, and the Beijing Olympics, because of a broken leg.

Regarded as the rider who could help restore cycling's credibility in Germany, where doping scandal has left it on the scrapheap, the 26-year-old Tour of Germany winner says Armstrong's return will do no good for the sport.

"This is not positive for the credibility of cycling," said Gerdemann as he announced his switch from Team Columbia to Milram.

"But there's nothing anyone can do about it."

Gerdemann's sentiments echo those of German television chiefs at ARD and ZDF, who have refused to cover the Tour de France next year after a spate of high-profile doping scandals have tarnished the event, including positive tests by German riders.

"For us, Armstrong is a piece of the past we don't want to see again," Rolf-Dieter Ganz, head of communications at ARD, told Die Welt newspaper on September 14.

"The future belongs to young riders, certainly not to Armstrong's generation which we had hoped to have seen the back of."

Gerdemann suggested that seeing Armstrong coming back to the Tour would equate to the fight against doping not being honoured.

He added: "I understand the broadcasters' decision, and it is a pity the fight against doping will not be honoured."

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